• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Big Ten peaks scaled; now to spread fitness gospel

Shortly before the Glasgow Commonwealth Games began, the Scottish international ultrarunners Dr Andrew Murray and Donnie Campbell became the first to run the UK's 10 highest peaks - all in Scotland - within 24 hours.

Ultrarunners Donnie Campbell, left, and Andrew Murray approach the summit of Cairngorm, the sixth peak of the Big Ten
Ultrarunners Donnie Campbell, left, and Andrew Murray approach the summit of Cairngorm, the sixth peak of the Big Ten

They covered 50km, including 5200m of ascent in 13hr 10min, with 9hr 10min spent running and the remainder driving from one mountain range to the next.

Murray, 34, and Campbell, 29, are now applying the determination that fuelled their achievement into securing a lasting post-Games health legacy for Scotland. Indeed, this forms part of Dr Murray's remit, following his recent appointment as clinical fellow at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow (RCPSG). "The Commonwealth Games provided a unique opportunity for everyone in Scotland to be a winner," he said. "It's great to see direct legacies like the Scottish Government's Fit in 14 campaign, a brilliant conference from the RCPSG last month which provided information and resources to nurses, doctors and physios on how we can help get people in Scotland more active more often; and the Beat Diabetes project which helps to promote healthy lifestyles and regular exercise."

Campbell added: "My best advice is to find a sport or physical activity you enjoy, and you're more likely to stick at it. You'll want to improve, so in turn you'll become fitter and healthier. If you don't know what you like, try different sports − there were 17 at the Games − so there is plenty of choice out there."

Not so long ago, Murray struggled to finish his first 10km run, and Campbell's liking for junk food had taken his weight up to 17st. Murray, whose subsequent achievements include having run seven ultra-marathons on seven continents in seven days, recalled: "After my first 10k, I could hardly walk the next day. My fitness level was not high. But my friend, who'd been running for ages, said that it gets easier, and it does."

Campbell, who was Scottish 100km champion in 2013, added: "When I was 17, I joined the Royal Marine Commandos, where fitness was essential, but, when I began a university course four years later, it took a back seat. I ended up drinking and eating too much, and put on four stone."

So what prompted them to lace up their trainers? "Commuting across town in a car was driving me nuts so I decided to run to and from work, which was quicker," said Murray. "I picked up a few injuries at first, but I persisted and they got better. Running's a great way of exploring. I now work in Glasgow, and the Clyde and the Campsies are my favourite running haunts."

Campbell, a running coach and founder of getactiverunning.com, explained: "After university, I started running to get fit enough to play shinty and football to a decent standard. I was only running up to distances of about 10k but, in 2008, a colleague asked if I fancied doing the 2009 Scottish Ultra, a 150-mile race over five days, and I said yes. It was the challenge I needed to get myself fit and I also had plenty of time to train for it: 10 months. I finished fourth and made some great friends, including Andrew, who I owe a lot to as he's helped me so much over the years to improve my running and fitness, and has been a great friend and training partner."

Campbell's route-finding skills helped to keep them on course during the Big Ten. "For me," says Murray, "the toughest part of the day was dealing with the wind, rain and low visibility in the Cairngorms when we were already tired. There were a few boulder fields to cut across which were pretty slippery, resulting in a few comedy falls. And the cloud cover made navigation tricky, but Donnie did this superbly. Had I been navigating we would have ended up in Moscow!"

Friendship with like-minded people is clearly one of the benefits of an active lifestyle, but there are others. Murray's wife says that he tends to eat better. "She also says I'm a bit more relaxed after being out for a run," Campbell noted. "I still can't believe some of the stuff I get to do, such as the Big Ten, speed ascents of Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, plus endless other travel opportunities."

Yet, the pair are adamant that the benefits of an active lifestyle should be available for all. Murray said: "In my other role as a doctor with the sportscotland Institute of Sport, I was delighted to see our athletes' medal haul but, through exercise, these athletes have an increased life expectancy and fewer chronic diseases. Apart from medals, these massive health benefits can be achieved by everyone in Scotland."

Contextual targeting label: 
Health

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

254334